DALLAS - With school security top of mind, Dallas ISD and Dallas PD leaders answered questions from Dallas city council members.
The Dallas Police Department briefed the city council’s public safety committee on school security and emergency preparedness Monday. They’re reviewing their plans in case the unthinkable school emergency happens.
Officers from the Dallas ISD Police Department and from neighboring cities like Plano and Richardson were at the meeting since city and school district boundaries overlap.
DISD Police Chief Craig Miller said that the most damage done in an active shooter situation happens in just five minutes, meaning the best chance of saving lives is well before the shooting ever starts. His message is if you see something, say something. He also wants parents to be nosy.
“The kids are the ones who have the best intelligence. We hope that they relay that to their parents,” he said. “Parents also need to be in their kid’s business, know who they're talking to and what sights they're on."
Dallas Police Executive Assistant Chief David Pughes also wants to encourage people who are concerned about someone to call police.
"We still have people who say I didn't want to bother the police department with that. Nothing had happened,” Pughes said. “I found it odd at the time. I wish I had said something now."
Chief Miller added that there are ways DISD and DPD could communicate better through merging their video surveillance systems.
“We have in DISD intricate camera systems, especially secondary schools,” Miller said. “Right now, we don't have the ability to share that intelligence.”
Dozens of Texas school districts, including Argyle ISD, already have programs in place for training teachers and faculty to carry guns. Others, like Richardson ISD, contract with police departments to provide campus security.
Richardson ISD Superintendent Jeannie Stone did not say if she would support training and arming faculty members.
“I know that would bring a lot of complexities into the schools. There are a lot of pressures on the teachers already who work so hard,” the superintendent said. “Again, I'll leave that up to the lawmakers and see what they decide."
The goal was to address the types of training being done to deal with school emergencies. DPD said its officers are trained to respond immediately and not wait for specialized teams like SWAT to arrive. That was the case with at least one deputy in Florida.
Currently, training is being done with recruits and current officers. They get reality-based training, simulator training and specialized training from SWAT. Dallas police also collaborate with school and neighboring police departments on team entry into schools.
Part of their emergency preparedness plan includes specially equipped vehicles, ballistic helmets, vests, shields and medical kits.
The department has been doing active shooter training since 1999, which is when the shooting happened at Columbine High School.
A training exercise is planned for Friday with DPD as well as Dallas, Richardson, and Plano ISDs. The purpose is to evaluate plans for responding to an active shooter. The training was already planned before the Parkland shooting.